After Months Of Earthquake Repairs, Baltimore Basilica Ready For Grand Reopening

BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  After months of repairs following the East Coast earthquake, Baltimore’s historic Basilica is set to reopen–just in time for Easter.

Monique Griego has more on what it took to get it back in pristine shape.

The Basilica had dozens of cracks in its walls and domes. Fixing them was an intense job but the payoff was worth it.

Baltimore’s historic Basilica is back open for service after undergoing major repairs.

“It looked pristine,” said Lisa Twiss. “Obviously, a lot of care and love has been put into it.”

In August 2011, the East Coast earthquake caused dozens of cracks in the Basilica’s walls and domes. Repairs would be labor intensive. Crews had to strip the building to its core, while also protecting the past.

Ellington Churchill, from Henry Lewis Contractors, was in charge of the project.

“There were cracks in just about every dome,” Churchill said. “Throughout the Basilica, we opened up about 3,000 flat feet of plaster. We had to take off moldings.”

The contractor handling the repairs is the same one that completed the renovations back in 2004.

“Well, it’s a labor of love,” Churchill said. “This is our second time here. This is America’s first cathedral. It’s a historic landmark.”

After fixing the damage, crews worked to get the building and all its intricate pieces back to the historic standard.

“Everything is fresh. Everything is new,” Churchill said.

Now, with just days to go before Easter, the church is ready for its grand reopening.

“Being able to have the restoration finished and complete by Holy Week and Easter celebration was a primary target,” said a church official.

The Basilica’s historic significance draws more than 100,000 visitors a year. Those there Wednesday say any trace of an earthquake had been erased.

“It’s amazing. It’s a holy place. It’s an atmosphere of awe, wonder and beauty,” said one visitor.

In total, the repairs cost $2.9 million. It was covered by insurance.

The Basilica has resumed its regular Mass schedule and will be open for Easter.

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